Jesus told another story to the people: "A man planted a vineyard. He handed it over to farmhands and went off on a trip. He was gone a long time. In time he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect the profits, but they beat him up and sent him off empty-handed. He decided to try again and sent another servant. That one they beat black and blue, and sent him off empty-handed. He tried a third time. They worked that servant over from head to foot and dumped him in the street.
"Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'I know what I'll do: I'll send my beloved son. They're bound to respect my son.'
"But when the farmhands saw him coming, they quickly put their heads together. 'This is our chance—this is the heir! Let's kill him and have it all to ourselves.' They killed him and threw him over the fence.
"What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He'll come and clean house. Then he'll assign the care of the vineyard to others."
Those who were listening said, "Oh, no! He'd never do that!"
But Jesus didn't back down. "Why, then, do you think this was written:
That stone the masons threw out—
It's now the cornerstone!?
"Anyone falling over that stone will break every bone in his body; if the stone falls on anyone, it will be a total smashup."
The religion scholars and high priests wanted to lynch him on the spot, but they were intimidated by public opinion. They knew the story was about them.
In this story Jesus does one thing: He exposes the religious hierarchy for what they were. They wanted power over and were willing to do whatever it took to maintain that power.
What really strikes me is their response. They got angry, angry enough to want to kill Jesus on the spot.
So, what is my response to being exposed? What is yours?
There will be times in our lives when we are going to be exposed by others or by the Spirit. Our lives will be laid bare and we will have to come face to face with our shadows. To be sure, we do everything we possibly can to avoid that. We put on masks and identities to hide our shadow selves and to remain acceptable. But, eventually everything is brought into the light and we will have to deal with the false self we have created.
In photography, exposure alludes to the amount of light that is collected by your camera. An underexposed picture is dark and grainy, conversely an overexposed picture is washed out. In both situations the true picture is obscured.
When we are underexposed we are living in darkness. Our self created shadow hides us from one another and God. It keeps us from growing or experiencing truth. We are unable to move into any sense of mature faith, life, or relationships.
If we get overexposed then we are likely being spiritually or emotionally abused. Our imperfections and sin-sickness are used against us to create shame. When we are living in this situation we find ourselves wounded and unable to move into any sense of mature faith, life, or relationships.
To be properly exposed is to be able to remove the shadow and become who God made us to be, the very best versions of ourselves. While it might hurt in the short term and even help us to identify areas for which we are guilty, this process frees us to mature in our faith, life, and relationships.
I think it’s fascinating to see how Jesus exposes the religious leaders. He doesn’t do it by shouting them down or wagging a finger. He does so with a story and through the side door. Their own consciences pricked them and they responded. Their response was not with a desire to change but with anger.
So, again, I am left wondering, how do I respond when I am exposed? Not in an overexposed kind of way but in this way where my conscience is allowed to work. If I’m honest with myself, the response is typically one of two things. First, I will often try to rationalize my shadow. I will argue for why this mask is important and needs to remain. Second, I will get angry. That kind of irrational anger that makes no sense and then you look back and think, “Well, that was dumb.”
When I’m doing well and practicing good healthy spiritual and physical disciplines, my response is different. I will listen. I will take it in. I will evaluate it. And often will make appropriate changes. I wish that was the case more than it actually it is. I think, these responses are coming more often. But, I want this to be more the norm than the exception.
How about you? What is your response when you are “exposed”?